Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Thursday, 14 March 2024

An exclusive interview with Archbishop Gallagher by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media

Interview by Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader : :

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States and International  Relations, has said that the distinguished relationship between the Holy See and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has roots in the good relations between the Popes and the Hashemite Kings over the years.


In an exclusive interview conducted by Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader on the sidelines of his official visit to the Kingdom marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Jordan, Archbishop Gallagher said that these relations stem from the fact that Jordan brings together many factors of faith, religions, and cultures which contributed to the positive development of the relationship.


On the current situation in the Holy Land, Archbishop Gallagher reiterated the Holy See's profound concern for the people of Gaza, as there is profound distress for so many deaths and so many wounded people, and there is enormous sympathy and solidarity for the Palestinian people. He reaffirmed that the suffering should come to an end on the basis of two states, while preserving the special character and identity of Jerusalem as a revered holy place for the three monotheistic religions.


Following is the text of the interview conducted by Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader:


Your Excellency, thank you for visiting Jordan. Thank you for this interview and for this opportunity for being with us, in our capacity as the Catholic Center for Studies and Media. You are visiting Jordan marking the 30 years of the establishment of the good relations between Jordan and the Holy See. How do evaluate this relationship of 30 years after the establishment?

 Well, I think we can say that this is a particularly privileged relationship which exists between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Jordan, and it is something that, as you say, has its roots in good relations but with the Popes and the Kings over the years, and it is something which comes very, I think, spontaneously both from the fact that Jordan is a country in which many faiths, religions, and cultures come together and people feel themselves very much to be at home in their place. So, I think also at the level of international relations, the Holy See has felt that we have always been able to talk to our Jordanian friends and colleagues over the years and it is a relationship that has developed very positively and progressively. It is no secret that between King Abdullah and the Holy Father Pope Francis there is a warm and good relationship and that has been witnessed by us in these days by the remarks the King made about the Holy Father and was very encouraging, at the message I’ll be taking back to Rome is very positive.


Sixty years ago Pope Paul VI visited Jordan and ten years ago Pope Francis, and of course we had the visit of John Paul II the saint and Pope Benedict. What are the effects that the papal visits leave to any country they visit especially in Jordan?

Well, I think that the Popes’ visits are always done in an almost universal context. It is obviously going back to the time of Pope Paul VI. This was the beginnings of the Apostolic journeys of Popes and very much the politics at the early stages of his pontificate wanted to come to the Holy Land, wanted to retrace the steps of our Lord Jesus and of the apostles, and I think the fact that the Pope is the successor of Peter comes back with certain regularity to Jordan is really rooting the faith, rooting the efforts of the universal Catholic Church to continue our mission which is truly apostolic and which is wanting to draw on the riches of the faith which had its origins here in these lands of the Holy Land.


One of the big points of collaboration between Jordan and the Holy See is seeking peace especially for the Holy Land between Palestine and Israel. How does the policy regard the situation now in Gaza? How do you foresee the end of this actual situation and what is the position of the policy for the future of the region and of this war?

Well, as we have heard from Pope Francis many times in recent months, there is a profound concern for the people of Gaza. There is profound distress for so many deaths and so many wounded people. There is enormous sympathy and solidarity for the Palestinian people at this time both in Gaza and in the West Bank as there is also obviously the Pope’s concern at the moment is that the suffering should come to an end, that the war should finish, and that there should be an agreement for a peaceful conclusion to that, and then a rebuilding of relationships or rebuilding  of Gaza, and hopefully the rebuilding of a relationship between the Palestinian and the Israeli people which as you know the Holy See has long foreseen to be resolved on the basis of two states.


As for the status of Jerusalem, because after the two-state solution the Holy See is talking always about "the special status" for Jerusalem.

Yes, we don’t enter into the question of whose capital Jerusalem might be whether it be the capital of both states but we do believe that the special character and identity of Jerusalem as a revered holy place for the three great monotheistic religions means that the status of Jerusalem should be guaranteed internationally by an agreement, a treaty of some kind and that the political reality of  Jerusalem for the future in this relationship to Israel into Palestine should be decided by them  in the coming to a final agreement.


We, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, had the honour of meeting Pope Francis last September.  At the Vatican, he talked about us in the general audience, so how the media, Your Excellency, can contribute to establishing atmospheres of justice and peace?

Well, we live in a world which all our lives are not so dominated by the media, but we are certainly very affected by what we see but by what we hear, and therefore the media have an enormous responsibility but and also enormous opportunities to bring positive messages to people and to keep alive faith, to keep alive vision and hope in people's hearts of which we have so much need at this time then.


Then Your Excellency, happy anniversary for your Episcopal ordination 20 years, and may your pilgrimage to Jordan be blessed.

Thank you very much indeed. It’s been a pleasure to be here and also you make reference to my Episcopal ordination on the 13th of March but of course but that is also the 11th anniversary of the election of the Holy Father which I think is something a little bit more important. Yes, happy anniversaries. Thank you, God bless you.